Minnesota Suspect in Cop Killing Faced 30 Years in Prison on Drug Charge

Minnesota

The Minnesota man who allegedly shot and killed police officer Scott Patrick in Mendota Heights, Minnesota, on Wednesday was wanted by police after leaving a court-ordered drug treatment program. If convicted on the drug charge pending against him, Brian George Fitch Sr. would have faced a maximum 30-year prison sentence.

The Associated Press reports that court documents reveal that Fitch had been arraigned last year in Dakota County, Minnesota, for possession of 47.4 grams of methamphetamine, for which prosecutors were seeking a 30-year prison sentence. He was released from jail on the condition that he complete a drug treatment program. After he left the program, a warrant for his arrest was issued on June 6. Fitch was stopped by police on Wednesday in West St. Paul on a routine traffic stop, during which he shot Officer Patrick. He was transported to St. Paul’s Regions Hospital, where he later died. He is the first police officer to be killed in the line of duty for the police department of Mendota Heights, a small suburb of St. Paul.

Fitch was the subject of a local manhunt that lasted for hours until a tip led police to a house in St. Paul. As police approached his vehicle after Fitch attempted at first to flee, the suspect opened fire and was wounded by police. He is currently in serious condition at Regions Hospital in St. Paul. His companion in the vehicle, Kelly Lee Hardy, 36, is in the hospital in fair condition. The relationship between the two is not yet known.

Memorials and tributes dedicated to slain officer Patrick continue to pour in from those who came into contact with him before his tragic death on Wednesday. Patrick, 47, is being remembered for his decades of service in law enforcement not only by co-workers, but also by those with whom he came into contact during his career – many of them strangers who were helped by Patrick as he went about his daily life.

Many of the memorials describe Patrick as having gone above and beyond what was necessary in his role as an officer. Employees of a local gas station recalled the way he joked and chatted with them during his frequent stops to the store. Another story recounted his visit to the bedside of a 17-year-old teen he had assisted after she had been hit by a car. A security guard for a local college recounted how surprised he was when Officer Patrick stopped to chat with him, a simple security officer. A distant relative described him as a “jolly guy.”

After news of his death spread online, cops, friends and complete strangers replaced their profile pictures with a black image through which a blue line was drawn – a representation of the Thin Blue Line that commemorates officers who make the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty. At the West St. Paul, Minnesota, scene of the shooting of Patrick, a crowd of hundreds gathered to mourn and to pay their respects as a tribute of candles and flowers at the scene grew steadily larger. Strangers stopped to offer condolences and hugs to Patrick’s sister-in-law and other family members, which was followed by a group rendition of “Amazing Grace.”

Police Chief Mike Aschenbrener described Patrick as a “family man” who “absolutely adored his children.” In addition, the chief recounted how deeply Patrick cared about the city he served. Officer Patrick was the current longest-serving member of the Mendota Heights police department. He joined the force in 1995 after serving as an officer in the city of Shakopee, Minn., from 1992 to 1995. Officer Patrick leaves behind a wife, Michelle, and two teen daughters.

By Jennifer Pfalz

Sources:
Police One
San Francisco Gate
Star Tribune

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